Rab­bit pulls Grand out of hat

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

LISA Smith be­lieves in­de­pen­dent theatre is about push­ing bound­aries – and that’s ex­actly what the lo­cal direc­tor has done with new ‘‘dark and un­nerv­ing’’ Gold Coast play The Grand. The White Rab­bit Theatre En­sem­ble pro­duc­tion was de­vel­oped from the ground up by Smith, Bris­bane-based play­wright Vic­to­ria Car­less and the play’s stars, Anna Mowry and Tammy Weller. The Grand fol­lows the story of two women run­ning a once very grand ho­tel, but not ev­ery­thing is as it seems. The plot un­folds as the women draw in­creas­ingly on games and dreams and mem­ory as they wait for their guests to ar­rive. Smith says strong and in­ter­est­ing themes man­i­fested in The Grand as a re­sult of the four women be­ing in­volved in the creative devel­op­ment. ‘‘Vic­to­ria and I went to univer­sity to­gether and we are ac­tu­ally old and dear friends,’’ she says. ‘‘We wanted to col­lab­o­rate as a di­rec­tor­play­wright team. Vic­to­ria gets full credit but we were all in­volved in planting the seeds. The ac­tor’s feel re­ally helped shape the char­ac­ters.’’ The Grand de­buted on a Townsville stage two weeks ago to high ac­claim. Smith says the ‘‘creepy in­ter­est­ing lit­tle piece’’ is sweet and sad with el­e­ments of dark hu­mour. ‘‘There are lots of lay­ers in the play, the ac­tors will con­cur with me on that one,’’ she says. ‘‘There isn’t one par­tic­u­lar mes­sage but it does ex­plore the idea of be­long­ing. There’s a sense of play be­tween these two women. They have to en­ter­tain them­selves, so they play, which is quite funny.’’ The set de­sign of The Grand is by Luke Ede and Smith says it has a ‘‘dark, gothic, moody’’ feel. ‘‘The set and cos­tumes have a re­ally muted pal­ette – as though things were once bright but they have faded away a lit­tle bit,’’ she says. ‘‘It has been re­ally nice to have just two ac­tors on stage. The girls ac­tu­ally have a friend­ship out­side of the play which brings a beau­ti­ful warmth to the friend­ship of the char­ac­ters.’’ A feel­ing of ‘‘time­less­ness’’ ticks through­out the play, and Smith says Car­less has a po­etic form in her lan­guage which doesn’t be­long to a spe­cific era. ‘‘There’s great op­por­tu­nity for this play to con­tinue and have real life af­ter this sea­son,’’ she says. Most of all, Smith hopes The Grand is a con­ver­sa­tion starter. ‘‘It’s the sort of play we want peo­ple to talk about af­ter they see it,’’ she says. ‘‘I hope that peo­ple re­ally want to dis­sect what they have just seen.’’

– ROSE SADLEIR

The Grand plays The Space, at The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast Plays Thurs­days to Satur­days at 7.30pm from tonight un­til November 23. Tick­ets are $12-$27.

The Grand. – Pic­ture: AARON ASH­LEY

Tammy Weller in a scene from

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